Evaluating the effectiveness of social work education has become a topic of major interest in the UK in the wake of a succession of child-care tragedies that have undermined confidence in the profession. However, many key aspects of social work education remain under-researched and/or contested and our knowledge of how students acquire and develop professional expertise remains limited. This paper reports on the first part of a longitudinal study aimed at developing evidence-based knowledge in this area by considering student perceptions at different stages of their social work education at Queen’s University Belfast. Focusing on the strengths and limitations of preparatory teaching, and their first experience of practice learning, this article considers the impact of demographic factors, including age, gender and experience, on how students experience the learning process. The findings indicate a significant level of disjunction between academic and practice learning and suggest that better integration between these two domains of learning is needed if social work students are to be more effectively prepared for the challenges they are likely to encounter in practice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Health(social science)